Clemson vs LSU

Keys for the Clemson-L.S.U. National Title Game By Zach Schonbrun ESPN’s Football Power Index is predicting No. 3 Clemson to beat No. 1 LSU, giving them a 55.8 percent chance to win the game.LSU vs. Clemson: ESPN Football Power Index gives early prediction for national title

The teams competing for a national title have two of the top quarterbacks, two of the top running backs and the luxury of rest.
Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney spoke to reporters on Saturday. His team will face L.S.U. for the national title on Monday night. Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney spoke to reporters on Saturday. His team will face L.S.U. for the national title on Monday night.Credit…David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Who to watch when Clemson has the ball:

The Clemson football team has won 29 games in a row. Excuse its performance in the last one.“I’d give it a B-minus,” Coach Dabo Swinney said of his team’s College Football Playoff semifinal against Ohio State on Dec. 28. “We did some dumb things, had some missed opportunities.

“But,” he continued, “the beautiful thing is we still won.”The Tigers will need their A game on Monday night when they travel to New Orleans for the national championship game, which is being played at the Superdome, about 80 miles from the campus of their opponent, top-ranked Louisiana State.

Who to watch when LSU has the ball:

Isaiah Simmons (LB): A track star turned safety turned linebacker turned free-ranging weapon, Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons rapidly emerged as one of college football’s most versatile players in 2019.

Those Tigers seemed to barely break a sweat in dismantling No. 4 Oklahoma, 63-28, in their semifinal matchup, also on Dec. 28. L.S.U., with the No. 1 offense in the country and an improving defense, has already beaten six teams ranked in the top 10 this season. With each one, it looked more and more like a team of destiny.

But the same could also have been said about Alabama last season.Here is a look at some of the keys to the title game:Quarterback MatchupL.S.U. safety Grant Delpit said he thought his team had a phenomenal offense at training camp this season. At least, that’s what he hoped he was seeing.

“Either they were going to be really good or we were going to be bad,” Delpit said about his team’s offense and defense, “because they were putting up a lot of yards on us in all the scrimmages.”L.S.U.’s offense wound up leading the nation with 564.4 yards per game, led by quarterback Joe Burrow, who won the Heisman Trophy. He looked better than ever against the Sooners, scoring eight touchdowns (seven passing, one rushing).

L.S.U. has modeled its offense after the one used by the New Orleans Saints. L.S.U.’s passing-game coordinator, Joe Brady, spent two years with the Saints as an offensive assistant. L.S.U. has a dizzying assortment of talented pass catchers, including tight end Thaddeus Moss, the son of the Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss, and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who caught 50 passes this season out of the backfield.

But Clemson has a championship-proven quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, who had another incredible season as a sophomore, even if it did not meet the early Heisman Trophy hype. That was mainly because he threw eight interceptions in the first seven games.

Most of them were meaningless — Clemson won by over 30 points in all but one of the games in which he tossed an interception. But in the final two months, Lawrence has flipped a switch. Entering Monday, he has made 202 consecutive pass attempts without getting picked off, a team record, with 22 touchdown passes in that span.
Clemson’s Defense

Burrow, the L.S.U. quarterback, gets rid of the ball quickly, and getting to the quarterback has not been a strength for Clemson this season, as it was last season.“They just shred everybody, and it starts with him,” Swinney said of Burrow. “And it’s not just his ability to throw the ball. He’s made great plays with his legs, too.”

But the Clemson secondary showed why it might be the most talented one Swinney has fielded. In the Playoff semifinal, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields threw two interceptions after entering the game with only one for the season. And Clemson’s defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, has been creative about crafting deceptive blitzes, so if there is anyone who can throw Burrow off his game, it might be him.

Alabama was averaging nearly 46 points per game last season before it was humbled by Venables, whose defense held the Crimson Tide to 16. Three defensive linemen from that team wound up being drafted in the first round by the N.F.L. But Clemson still managed to allow the fewest points per game (11.5) in the nation this season.Etienne’s Revenge

Travis Etienne can make a solid claim as the best running back in Clemson history: He was the first Clemson player to be named Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year in back-to-back seasons since quarterback Steve Fuller in 1977 and 1978.

And it almost never happened. A Jennings, La., native, he was an L.S.U. fan growing up. He was ready and willing to be recruited by the university in 2017. But L.S.U. Coach Ed Orgeron, who was an L.S.U. assistant at the time, came around too late. Etienne was committed to Clemson.“Every time I see him having success, I’m sick to my stomach,” Orgeron said.

Etienne, a former high school track star, seems to come up with big plays when Clemson needs them most, like his galloping 53-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass in which he knifed right through the middle of the Ohio State defense. He made only three catches against the Buckeyes, but they went for a total of 98 yards.A Long LayoffIt has been an unusually long layoff between the semifinals and the championship game. Neither team is complaining.

Edwards-Helaire, the L.S.U. running back, was questionable to take the field against Oklahoma because he injured a hamstring in early December; he wound up touching the ball only twice. It was easy to keep him out because the game quickly turned into a blowout.Edwards-Helaire has called his recovery “miraculous.” After a 16-day layoff, he is expected to be 100 percent on Monday night.

Clemson, which played its semifinal game near Phoenix before flying back to South Carolina, is also relishing the extra time to recover. After the Ohio State game, Lawrence, the quarterback, said he had never felt so sore. That was not surprising. He finished with more yards rushing than Etienne, including a 67-yard touchdown, and absorbed some brutal hits in the process.Lawrence has shown the grit to win. In his Clemson career, he has yet to experience the soreness after a loss.

Jesse Hart vs Joe Smith Jr

Jesse Hart Vs. Joe Smith Jr: Date, Time, TV And Live Stream LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 15: Jesse Hart (C) prepares for his light heavyweight fight against … [+] Sullivan Barrera at MGM Grand Garden Arena on June 15, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hart won by unanimous Fight fans who tune into ESPN may be in for a treat on Saturday when Jesse Hart (26-2, 21 KO) and Joe Smith Jr. (24-3, 20 KO) meet. This one has the potential to produce an epic KO and a slugfest for as long as it lasts.

Here’s how you can watch.

Date: Saturday, January 11
Time: 10 pm ET
TV: ESPN
Live Stream: Watch ESPN

The Draw Tyson Fury v Tom Schwarz – Weigh-in

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 14: Boxer Jesse Hart poses during a ceremonial weigh-in at MGM Grand … [+] Garden Arena on June 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hart will meet Sullivan Barrera in a light heavyweight bout on June 15 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Often criticized for his penchant for slugging over boxing, Hart always seems to deliver exciting performances. The former 168-pound title challenger will be in his second fight at light heavyweight when he faces Smith on Saturday.

The only man that has been able to defeat Hart is former 168-pound champion turned light heavyweight contender Gilberto Ramirez. Zurdo has downed Hart twice and a third meeting could happen at 175 pounds if both men continue to win in their new weight class.Bernard Hopkins v Joe Smith Jr.

INGLEWOOD, CA – DECEMBER 17: Joe Smith Jr. reacts after punching Bernard Hopkins out of the ring … [+] for a ninth round TKO to win the WBC International Light Heavyweight title at The Forum on December 17, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
2016 Getty Images

Smith is going to do everything in his power to prevent himself from becoming a stepping stone. His best attribute is his titanic punching power. He had a fantastic year in 2016 when he scored KO victories over Andrzej Fonfara and Bernard Hopkins. Those wins led to opportunities against Sullivan Barrera and Dmitry Bivol.Because Smith lost a lopsided decision to Bivol in his last fight, he needs a win over Hart if he hopes to get another title shot any time soon.

Hart-Smith isn’t exactly a pay-per-view attraction, but it does deliver an intriguing stylistic matchup. The potential title shot implications spices it up.The UndercardThe co-main event will be the Steve Nelson vs. Cem Kilic bout at super middleweight. However, the real gem of the Hart-Smith preliminaries is the third professional fight for 17-year-old Xander Zayas.

After two impressive KO wins to start his career, the former amateur standout and youngest fighter ever signed to Top Rank will take on Corey Champion.With a record of 1-1, Champion has had the same amount of pro bouts as Zayas, and he’s had a pro MMA fight as well.Zayas is expected to roll, but catching a glimpse of a kid who has the potential to become a future world champion should carry some value for the viewer.